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Denali from Talkeetna, Alaska 2017

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Good China

I will be spending much of this week sorting lots of things I have been tucking away in the garage for a future Flea Market day.  Well, the future is here.  The big flea market in San Jose has a free day on the first Saturday of the month. My main goal is to remind myself what is in all those bags and boxes, price things, and get on with it.  I want to sell the fake fur.  I can't see dumping it, and I'm not sure Goodwill will take it.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about "things" as I work.  Although my china set is not yet in the "go" pile, I am letting go of it mentally.  Years ago, on our 20th anniversary Craig wanted to buy china.  We had married very young and didn't have a wedding.  We struggled to make end meet more years than I care to remember, and never had money for the "finer" things like china and crystal.

I remember going to Macy's with him and looking as really nice china.  We picked out some, but when we were paying for it I was told that it all had to be "hand washed."  What?  I figured I would be using it for special occasions and big dinners.  Who wants to wash more dishes by hand than necessary at times like that?

We stopped the transaction, and I found a pleasant, inexpensive set that was on sale.  I could put it in the dishwasher without fear.

Some years went by and I used it often.  Then in 1989 we had a big earthquake and most of the china was broken.  The insurance adjuster appraised it at about three times what I had paid for it.  I didn't correct him because he lowballed us on other things.

In this house I have a big, beautiful dining room.  A beautiful place for beautiful dinners.  I also have a dishwasher that has a "China" temperature setting. So,  I used the insurance money toward a 12 place setting set of Noritake china and a beautiful set of flatware to go with. I have enjoyed using it, but I just don't see keeping it.

As I type this post, I have decided that I will keep the flatware.  Who says knives and forks can't be elegant in an RV?  My good flatware doesn't weigh any more than my everyday stuff, and hand washing is the way I'll be doing it in the Alfa.

We don't want to put anything in storage. Our daughter will keep a few things for us in her attic, but we'd like to be free of sizable items. Maybe she can keep half the flatware for me, it won't take up much room.  I'm sure we will probably settle down to a small house or condo someday, but when that time comes we can get new dishes.  I don't see our having a large dining room again, or my hosting family holidays.  I hope I can help my daughter at her house!

I feel that the important things are the people, not the dishes, and I can serve quite nice meals on my Corelle, or paper plates for that matter.  If I want china, I will find a bargain on eBay or at Goodwill.

I've checked eBay and Craigslist and find some of the same pattern going for about 1/3 of what I paid for it.  I just hate the process of selling things. I might do some research into an estate sale after the house sells.  The only question I have about them is that our house is not in a very good location for the casual garage sale buyer.

So, think of me on Saturday.  I have to get up at about 4:00 AM.  Yuck.  Craig is not coming along.  Hopefully he will get a lot done around the house that day.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Progress Report

I really don't have much of interest to post about, but someday when I'm sitting in the shade, in a National Park, I want to be able to remember what it took to get there!  We are working hard and progress is evident. 

Craig took down the shop lights in the room that was my studio and has put up more suitable overhead fixtures.  I will be finishing the painting in there and in our bedroom tomorrow. We don't sleep in the "master bedroom." I painted it last winter.

When Harry and Jessica were working on their house, Jessica mentioned rejuvenating the woodwork and doors.  I filed it under "things to consider" in the back of my mind.  Craig has been replacing some of the baseboards and doors with new.  As he does this, it really makes the older wood look tired by comparison.  But we really don't want to replace all of the 26 interior doors, just the white ones installed by the previous owner. We think he salvaged them from one of his rentals!  Some of the stained wood ones look OK, but some are pretty beat up.  One in particular was the door to my studio.  It has several scratches and a bits of paint and plaster splashed onto it.  I will be working on doors as time allows. Helping with other projects may be more important.

But this week I tried using WATCO Rejuvenating Oil on the wood banisters.  They've gotten no care, other than an occasional dusting, for the whole time we've lived here.  I'm a terrible housekeeper!  They were all quite scuffed and dirty. First I worked them over with some of those Magic Eraser sponges. That got the dirt off.   Then I applied the oil, let it set for ten minutes, and wiped it off.

After drying for three days I applied a layer of paste wax to one section, as recommended on the can. The results were wonderful.  They don't look new but the scuffs are blended in and they have a rich finish again.  On Monday I will wax the rest. This is so much easier than sanding them down, re-staining and coating with polyurethane. 

I've been depressed about the way the kitchen cabinets look.  A few months back Craig helped me scrub them all down, but the wood and the varnish are desperately in need of renewal.  I rejected the thought of refinishing them because the kitchen is so big. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful kitchen, and I have loved working in it for years. But the thought of removing and reworking 41 doors and 17 drawers was beyond me.  Polishing  with this Danish Oil is within what I'm willing to do and shouldn't take more than a week or two.

In addition to the lights, Craig made a new "dent" in his stuff.  We have a large computer desk in the studio room that had to be moved so I could paint the last wall.  He kept his computer reference books there. Today he cleared them off, packed them up, and I took them to the recycling place.  Goodwill won't take them. He also cleared out the file cabinet drawer, and reduced the contents down to about a quarter of an inch of papers.  

Although the desk and bookcase come apart, we will have a problem getting it out of the room.  It seems we brought it in by way of the patio door.  But in the intervening years we have had the door replaced and it is now too narrow.  Craig has looked at the problem and says we will just have to remove the door.  

I had planned on keeping it for staging the room, but when I saw how deep the dents in the old carpet are, I have changed my mind.  We will be getting new carpet in there very soon and I don't want the desk making deep grooves in it.  The desk will have to go. 

We have six weeks before we go on our spring trip.  I would like to see the lower bathroom done by then.  

One day at a time.  
One project at a time.  (Well maybe two or three.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another Week Gone

Well, here it is Friday again! 

We finished painting the family room on Monday (no picture) 

On Tuesday we started the last phase of fixing up the walls in the hall.  A closet, the laundry room, a bedroom, and a bathroom are all at the bottom of this little five-step-down hall area. Craig has done some drywall repair and has replaced all four of the doors.  Before I could paint, we needed to spray the repaired drywall areas with texture spatter.  It is really a messy project.  We needed to paint the walls with primer first, spatter, and then paint with primer a second time.  

I put plastic over the new doors and floor. This area will be getting new baseboards, wood trim around the doors, and new carpeting after we get it all painted. 


The light is just above where I was standing for the first picture looking down three steps.  The hall leads to the living room, and these steps go to my sewing loft and a bedroom. 

I painted the ceilings here and down in my former studio today. Craig was also busy. 

Craig had his record collection in a bookcase along the wall to the right.  Speaking of which, nothing has happened with the guy who said he was interested in the record collection.  I guess we have to give him a nudge or start thinking about other possibilities.  For now they are all still in the living room!

In between painting projects, I have been able to do a little creative sewing.  Last year, when we were at Crater Lake I bought a long sleeve T-shirt on our last day at the park.  I guess I didn't really believe I would be able to keep the weight off, because I bought it in the XXL size without trying it on until we were back at home.  It turned out to be a men's XXL and it fit me like a huge sack.  I didn't want to throw it away or send it to Goodwill, but I didn't want to wear it either.

I have found a style and cut of shirt that I really like.  After  a bit of searching I found a pattern for just the cut I wanted. 


Although the shirt was XXL size, I could not use the sleeves because my pattern has a different kind.  But, I had a nice black tee shirt that was also too big for me that I could use.

Me and myself in my remodeled shirt

I'm really happy with the result, and may be making more shirts for myself in the future!  Now that I'm a retired artist, I will be enjoying new creative outlets.

Finally, on Valentine's Night it was not quite cold enough to have a fire in the fireplace, so we relaxed to the crackle of a fireplace app on our iPad.

Craig in colorful PJ's that I made for him.


Tomorrow we go to the dump.

OH BOY!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Sound System and a pile of History

[From Craig]  It seems it's time to liquidate our stereo system. I'm one of those weird people you may have heard of, who know that vinyl records sound better than CDs, provided you have good equipment. Though I have heard better sound than any vinyl from later recording systems like SACD and DVD-Audio.

In the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, our previous system pitched forward in its rack onto its front, pretty much destroying all of the components. At that point I decided to assemble a really good system, with the help of a magazine called Stereophile.

Since most of the high-end components I wanted were beyond our means, I bought most of the them used. Still it was quite an extravagance, but for all the pleasure it has given us over the years, I have no regrets. 


But it's not feasible to tote such a heavy sound system around in an RV, so it must go somehow. Last Saturday (with considerable fear) I looked up San Jose's leading vinyl record shop, the Analog Room, from whom I had bought the last part (a good phono cartridge) about 15 years ago. It was a great relief to see that they were still in business at the same location! I spent more than an hour reminiscing about past high-end audio with the proprietor, and he said he is interested in the records and perhaps also the turntable and phono preamp. The other components will probably go on a web site called Audiogon.

For any of you who may care about such things, the list of our components is here.



Today I got some boxes and we transferred the over 800 records into them.

While doing this I saw several albums I had forgotten and just had to hear one more time. So tonight we're listening to records more than we have for a long time. After hearing Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home and Pictures at an Exhibition by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony, Merikay turns to me and says "heck, let's just stay here and listen to music!"

Which of course we're not serious about, but tonight it's great fun while it lasts.

Stay tuned in the coming months for what happens to my collection of over 3000 science fiction books.



From Merikay: 

It seems that as I empty drawers and closets, every surface is accumulating things to sort or consider.

For years whenever there was an interesting event, Craig would save the newspaper. From the earthquake of 1989 to the day Bush declared "Mission Accomplished". Add to that a copy of a 1979 Sears catalogue and we have a fine pile of worthless history!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Little Done Every Day

Nothing exciting going on around here.  I've written several blog posts, but have deleted them because they either didn't make sense, were boring, or I was whining.  


We keep getting something done every day.  

Not huge jobs, but something. 

I'm back to painting again.  

Rooms that I didn't do last year or the year before. 

I finished the upstairs bedroom, and have started on the family room. There are five doors, and one stair doorway, plus a large set of windows, so there is a lot of detail work to do. I was not going to repaint the ceiling, but we noticed some cracking around one of the inset lights. Now that it is fixed the entire ceiling needs a fresh coat of white. Craig is going to "pop" down the 17 lights so I won't have to mask around them. 

The walls will be very easy to paint because I am just going to do one coat using the same color that is there now.  I did all of the lower edging today. I expect the room to be done by the beginning of next week.

I also worked on filling nail holes in the studio room.  Many many nail holes! Craig is our nail hole "expert" and he will do a second pass before I prime and paint the walls. They will have to be primed because there are splashes of things no ordinary paint will cover. 

We have decided to take the shop lights down in there.  There is also an old heater on the wall that was part of the original heating system for the house. It has not worked for years and was behind one of my work benches. It will probably be a few weeks before I can paint in there, but we are moving in the right direction.

We have also removed the sink and vanity in the bathroom that's on the same floor as the family room and former studio. We found there was no tile under the vanity, so we will have to do something to the floor before we put a new one in. I don't want to retile the bathroom, but the top of the old vanity was done with a similar, but smaller terra cotta tile. I think we may be able to use it as an edge if the new vanity doesn't cover all of the presently untiled floor. I'm sure we will figure out what to do when the time comes.

In addition to helping me, Craig has continued to fit and install his new baseboards and wood trim around the doors he replaced.

Slowly, but surely!  It WILL GET DONE!